Seventh report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program reveals high levels of MDMA and heroin consumption

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission today released the seventh report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, revealing the average consumption of MDMA in both capital city and regional sites and average heroin consumption in capital city sites increased to the highest levels recorded by the program. While consumption of these drugs remains lower than other illicit drugs monitored by the program, these increases are of concern.

Nicotine and alcohol remain the highest consumed drugs measured by the program, with methylamphetamine remaining the highest consumed illicit drug of those tested in the country.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM said the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program gives valuable insight into the trends and emerging issues of drug consumption across Australia and can identify new sources of threat.

“The Australian community continues to consume illicit drugs at concerning levels and the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is providing an important, unified and consistent guiding tool for developing holistic drug responses,” Mr Phelan said.

“We are only now starting to realise the full benefits of the ongoing program.”

This report covers 54 per cent of the population, which equates to about 12.6 million people. Fifty wastewater treatment plants across Australia participated in the December 2018 collection, which monitored the consumption of 13 substances.

In addition to reporting on national drug consumption, this report includes updated SCORE data which provides international consumption comparisons for a number of drugs monitored by the program.

Of the 25 countries with comparable data, Australia ranks second highest after the United States of America for total estimated stimulant consumption (specifically methylamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine and MDMA).

The report also includes a breakdown by state and territory for the estimated weight of methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and heroin consumed annually in Australia.

In 2019, the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program received an additional $4.8 million to fund a further four years of the program. The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission will continue to develop its potential over the coming years and deliver three reports per annum.

The report is available from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission website:  

Note to editors

In accordance with current wastewater analysis conventions, the terms of the contract, and to protect the integrity of the program, the exact locations are not able to be publicly released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. To maintain the confidentiality of the participating site, each site was allocated a unique code to de-identify their results, however trends in particular states and territories are still able to be identified.